The Courage to Feel
Too often we keep our feelings, both positive and negative, inside. We do this for many reasons; fear of vulnerability, fear of rejection, fear of not having our feelings validated, fear of not having our feelings valued, and fear of making ourselves and others uncomfortable. All of these reasons start with fear. Fear is a barrier that we place in front of ourselves to protect us from the unknown. We believe that if we share what we are really feeling with others that there is a high probability that it will end in pain. Why do we feel that we will get hurt if we share our feelings? Has past experience lead us to believe that pain is the most likely outcome? Or do we have a low self value and believe that what we feel is not worthy enough for someone to bare witness to? I believe it is a mixture of both.
The important thing to realize when it comes to feelings is that we have no control over how we feel. We have control over how we react to our feelings but not the feelings themselves. Our feelings come from a place that is true to who we are, they come from our heart and our soul. Sharing of feelings and expression of feelings should be freeing not condemning. Many of us don’t even let our feelings be truly felt and processed before we start judging ourselves for feeling what we feel. We need to honor ourselves and allow ourselves to feel what we feel without judgment. We are our own toughest critic and we cause our own fears before we can even process our feelings. It is these judgments that we place on ourselves that we then project on others assuming they will have the same reaction to our feelings.
I struggled with this myself. I have always been afraid to express my feelings to others for the fear of being rejected or not having my feelings validated, basically I was afraid of being vulnerable and these were positive feelings I wanted to share. It wasn’t until I realized that life is too short and the fear of someone not knowing how I felt about them was much greater than the fear of rejection or lack of validation . Once I began sharing my feelings with friends and family I realized how great it felt to have those I truly care about know how I feel about them. And do you know what happened? I was never rejected or hurt, I was embraced and loved right back. With each person I shared my feelings with I gained the courage to express myself more deeply and openly than I had before. The more I expressed the greater the reward. Now I express feelings without fear and the thought of rejection doesn’t even enter my mind. Expressing feelings is like forgiveness, it is a release and freedom for me.
I also struggled with sharing negative feelings. I struggled with the thought of making other people uncomfortable with my truth. I didn’t want to make others feel the way they had made me feel so I stayed silent. But I realized in my silence, when I didn’t share my feelings of not feeling valued, I wasn’t valued. When I didn’t share my feelings of not feeling respected, I wasn’t respected. Once I began sharing my feelings I found myself sharing not only my feelings but my boundaries. I was sharing what I found as acceptable and not acceptable behavior towards me. Once I let my feelings and boundaries be known I began to be treated the way I deserve to be treated and all because I shared my feelings.
Going forward, I encourage you allow yourself to truly feel your feelings. Let yourself process what you are feeling and understand why you feel what you feel. Ask yourself if your feelings are worth sharing and if so share them, both your positive and negative feelings. Sharing your feelings is allowing others to know you and for you to get to know yourself. Feelings are a reflection of who you are. They are from your heart and soul and those two things are meant to be shared with the world. You also never know how sharing your feelings with someone will not only enhance your life but their’s as well.